TechUkraine conflict escalates: Russia deploys Tornado-S and Smerch artillery in Avdiivka

Ukraine conflict escalates: Russia deploys Tornado-S and Smerch artillery in Avdiivka

Launch of the Wilch missile from the BM-30 Smierch launcher - illustrative photo
Launch of the Wilch missile from the BM-30 Smierch launcher - illustrative photo
Images source: © Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

2:21 PM EST, November 10, 2023

Military expert Oleg Katkov, appearing on Ukrainian TV channel Espreso, highlighted that Russia has amassed "enormous resources and highly unusual systems" in Avdiivka. His comments mainly referred to the Tornado-S and BM-30 Smerch, both with notable capabilities.

Avdiivka has recently become a battleground where both conflict sides strive for superiority. Despite Ukraine frequently proclaiming its victories in Avdiivka, Russia has not remained quiet. Their recent use of the contentious Motiv-3M cluster bomb confirms this.

The tension in this eastern part of Ukraine continues to grow, leading Russia to deploy these uncommon weapons in combat. In this scenario, military expert Olek Katkov specifically emphasizes two systems within the arsenal of the aggressor.

As per the "Military Balance 2022" report, Russia possesses around 100 units of the BM-30 Smerch systems. On the other hand, Tornado-S is a much less common weapon, as only approximately 20 units existed in the Russian army as of the end of 2021.

Rare Artillery in Avdiivka: Russia Deploys Tornado-S and Smerch

Generally, both these artillery units are alike in design. The Tornado-S is a significant upgrade of the BM-30 Smerch system. It possesses an advanced guidance system compared to its predecessor. This system employs a blend of inertial and GLONASS satellite navigation, enabling incredibly precise strikes that are accurate to a few meters.

The Tornado-S missiles have a range of up to 124 miles, made possible by the near 26-feet length that provides space for additional fuel storage.

The second exceptional system that Katkov mentioned is the BM-30 Smerch. The base model 9M55 poses a significant threat to the Ukrainian army. The multi-launch version can accommodate both cluster warhead missiles (with 72 submunitions), along with thermobaric variations.

A single Smerch system missile weighs about 1763 lbs, with the warhead making up 551 lbs of that total weight. Depending on the model, the 23-feet long missiles can cover a distance of up to 56 miles. They can be launched individually or in salvos (with all 12 rockets taking 38 seconds to launch).

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